When Yasiel Puig hit the first of two solo home runs Miami Marlins starter Dan Straily surrendered in the fifth inning it broke a tie and left Puig two home runs shy of matching his career high of 19, set as a rookie in 2013.
By the end of the night, it was one-half of a third multi-home run game this season for the tantalizing outfielder. Puig’s second home run was much more dramatic, as the three-run shot gave the Dodgers a decided lead in the ninth inning.
He was the third consecutive batter Marlins closer A.J. Ramos failed to put away after getting two strikes. Puig said hitting when down to his final strike has been a focus of his, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“I’ve been trying to get better batting with two strikes, trying to remain calm,” Puig said through an interpreter. “It’s not always a situation that you want to be in, but when I am there, I’ve been working at being able to have a good at-bat.”
In such situations this season, Puig is batting a lowly .199/.258/.333, but does have four doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI. He’s drawn 12 walks and struck out 63 times in 155 plate appearances when batting with two strikes.
For his career, Puig is a .172/.252/.265 with 24 doubles, 17 home runs and 57 RBI.
While there’s certainly room for improvement in that area, Puig has been the recipient of regular praise from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Big players make big plays in big moments,” Roberts said Friday.
Prior to the All-Star break the second-year manager lauded Puig for his production despite batting near the bottom of the lineup, which up until 2017 was unchartered territory for the 26-year-old.
“You combine where he’s at in the order, the production on top of the defensive play, that’s a plus player,” Roberts recently said.
He’s learned and understood situations to be able to take the walk but if there’s a mistake over the plate, he’s hit homers and driven in a lot of runs. He’s on his way to having a really nice season.”